No real Eastern outlet, yet.
The Western Australian Department of Agriculture (DPIRD) monthly data on sheep transport volumes from west to east was updated recently (as at end of April) and it demonstrates that while there has been an increasing trend to the flows for much of 2023 the monthly volumes sent east have been below the average seasonal pattern.
April 2023 was the first time this year that we have seen numbers ahead of the average trend (according to the last ten years of flows). There were nearly 38,000 head of sheep sent to the east in April, which is 16% above the ten-year seasonal trend, so perhaps the limited turnoff options and large price discounts being seen in the west are beginning to encourage more shipments to the east.
The first quarter of 2023 saw similar monthly volumes sent east as was reported in 2022, which ran about 60% below the ten year average seasonal trend. Up to end of March 2023 there were a total of 40,470 head of sheep sent from WA to the east, so the flows seen in April 2023 alone have nearly matched the first quarter transport totals.
A comparison of WA sheep processed locally versus transport to the east or into the live export sector for quarter one of 2023 shows that 86% of turnoff has gone into the domestic processing sector in WA. There have been around 11% of WA sheep turned off into live export sector so far in 2023, this ratio of live export turnoff has been pretty stable since 2020. In terms of sheep transported east, during January to March this year, there have just been 3% trucked across the Nullarbor which is down from the 8% sent east seen in 2022.